The Best Ways to Relieve Arthritis Pain
Osteoarthritis is an incurable disease of the entire joint (ligaments, joint lining, cartilage and bone) that can affect hands, toes, hips, spines and knees in ways that can cause serious pain and disability.
Not everybody gets OA but those who do so are more likely to have risk factors such as having a joint deformity, family history of the disease or being obese. Those who do might only be affected in one part of their bodies, but it is common as time goes on for Osteoarthritis to worsen and spread.
It usually begins in middle age. At first it can be subtle, but as time goes on it becomes increasingly problematic.
It’s elusive because some days patients feel no pain whatsoever, but other times the pain can be breathtakingly horrible to the point that people cannot function.
I’ve had this disease for more than 23 years and have probably tried most of the so-called “cures”. What I’ve learned is that there is no cure. As a result I’ve tried to find ways to reduce my pain so that I’m able to function as well as possible.
Some of the methods I use may seem a bit strange, but all of them (and all of the aids I use) work for me. Maybe they’ll work for you, too!
First Things First
Before you start looking for ways to eliminate your pain, it’s a good idea to make sure you know what is causing it. If you treat for the wrong problem you will not have good results and may even harm yourself.
Therefore, take the time to share your symptoms with your doctor. If he thinks you have OA, he’ll refer you to a specialist who will be able to run tests and examine you so that he can determine the cause of your problem.
Once he’s determined what your situation is, he can provide options. These may include but are not limited to things such as
- taking anti inflammatory medications,
- getting physical therapy or
- taking steroid shots.
It will be up to you to decide if any or all of these things are acceptable, but know that if you are not emotionally ready to deal with any of them, there are alternatives you may want to try.
It took me 5 years to decide that I was ready for hip replacement, so hesitation about treatments is totally normal.
There are many things you can do to reduce pain levels, but not all work for every individual. For example, steroid shots work well for some people, but do not work at all for others.
In this article I’m going to share with you the things I do and have done to deal with my own pain. They are a mixture of doctor suggestions and my own discoveries as to things that allow me to live a relatively normal life.
Licensed Therapeutic Masseuse:
If you can find a good massage therapist who specializes in Arthritis issues, by all means have him or her work on you regularly.
A good therapist will stretch your muscles, increase your circulation, relax you and reduce a good deal of your pain. The key to getting all of these benefits is to visit at least twice each month so that your muscles will retrain themselves and stay that way!
Hand-Held Electric Massager
You can also purchase a hand-held massager with an acupuncture tip that you can use to relieve muscle pain. If you do this, make sure the motor is a powerful one because if not, it won’t work well.
Another good choice is to use tennis balls as massage tools. The key is to using them safely is to never put them directly on a joint.
It is the weight of your body pushing against the ball that reduces muscle spasms. This can be done either lying on a bed, on the floor or even sitting in your car.
- For upper arm pain, lie on your side with the ball underneath he affected area until the pain stops.
- For back pain, place one ball on each side of your spine and allow your body weight to push the ball into the affected area. Roll up and down if possible.
- For leg pain, do the same thing as with arm pain. You can use two balls at a time per leg if you like to get faster relief.
Don’t lay on a ball for more than a few minutes at a time. It’s amazing how well this tool works to relieve pain, and it costs practically nothing!
Ice Packs and Heating Pads
Cold reduces inflammation and heat relaxes muscles, so it’s a good idea to use both of these devices as needed. I sleep on a heating pad set on low to help the blood circulate in my low back and use an ice pack at night to cool my head or calm my neck. I also use these items while watching TV of riding in our car.
The hearing pad should have an adjustable temperature function. The ice pack should have a cover and be able to stay cold for long periods of time. For this last Item I use because it meets these requirements. Also, if you need moist heat, the Smart Temp pad can be heated in the microwave and then doused with water to produce a deeper level of heat than the pad. Smart Temp
I’ve tried many other types of ice/heat pads but this brand really works the best for me. They also come in two sizes. The small one fits my neck, forehead and low back perfectly. The big one is great for my back and legs.
The purpose of a brace is to give support to a painful or weak area until you can normalize it. These are especially good to use for morning back pain, but should not be worn all the time.
I use braces for my back, neck, wrists, ankles and knees as needed to allow those boy parts to rest and heal before trying to use them again. It’s a good idea to keep them handy because you never know when you’re going to need one of them!
All braces work well but will weaken your bad areas if you use them too much.
If you have had hip replacement or have back problems, you should always sleep with a pillow beneath your knees because this keeps your joints from straining. The neutral position for back pain is lie perfectly flat with a few pillows under your knees. Doing this lets your back rest.
If your furniture is soft or has poor lumbar support, always use a lumbar support pillow to keep from stressing your low back.
When you get a massage, what’s really happening is that the therapist is stretching your muscles in an attempt to reduce spasms and relax your body.
Similarly, if you develop a stretching routine (with the help of your doctor), you’ll find that you’ll have much less pain and much better mobility. It also feels very good to stretch daily.
Pre surgery pain relieving stretch.
When you are stressed, your muscles tighten up, spasm and cause pain. Therefore it’s a good idea to do some simple relaxation exercises every day or even meditate.
One of the easiest is to sit on a chair in a quiet room, breathe deeply and start relaxing your muscles from head to toe. If you’re doing this correctly, you should find yourself bending forward and allowing your arms to drop to your sides. Remain in this position for a few minutes. It doesn’t take long to do this, but it will definitely relax you!
A similar one is shown in the attached video.
Doctors will always prescribe Non Steroidal Anti Inflammatory pills because they do reduce pain. However, they also can lead to kidney problems and other health issues, so you need to use them judiciously.
If you use some of the other pain-relieving methods described in this article, you won’t need to medicate so often. You can try Tylenol as an alternative but you need to be careful with that as well as it can affect your liver if you use too much of it.
If pain becomes overwhelming, you may have to resort to steroid shots. These work really well for some people but if they don’t a pain management doctor may suggest doing an ablation.
You can also opt for surgery, but this is always a last resort. I chose it because my Arthritis had gotten so bad that I would have ended up in a wheelchair and had terrible pain the rest of my life had I not had my hip and back operations.
Where you sit and lie is very important when you have OA. Unfortunately, most furniture is poorly designed and has terrible lumbar support. Therefore you either have to make sure that what you buy will provide the support you need or supplement it with various types of back supports.
What you wear on your feet matters a lot, also. Once you get OA, you’re going to find that those stylish, pretty shoes are causing you a good deal of pain. As a result, you’re going to need to start wearing shoes that provide good arch support, hold your foot in place and keep you from slipping when walking. The best I’ve found are made by Finn Comfort.
These shoes come in a variety of men’s and women’s styles, are hand-made in Germany and, although costly, are perfect for people who have OA because they are so well designed. I have worn the Jamaica sandals for years because they have adjustable straps and allow enough room for my bunions and ingrown toenails to function pain free.
I also like the fact that I can slip them on without having to bend over, thus eliminating strain on my back and hips.
I hate spending the money to buy them, but have looked at other types of shoes that are also costly but can’t hold a candle to the Finn Comforts. If you search carefully, sometimes you can find a deal on Amazon.
People usually get a potty chair after their first surgery, but if you have OA it’s a good idea to keep one in your bathroom because this chair allows you to sit higher and provides arm support to help you rise up or become seated. To use it, simply remove the catch pail.
If you don’t want to spend a lot of money for one, hit some garage sales or go to your local thrift shop, sanitize the chair with Clorox and you’re all set.
You are more likely to fall in your tub or shower than in any other place in your home.
For this reason you should install grab bars in and just outside of your showers and tubs. When you have back, knee and hip problems your balance is often “off”. If you combine this fact with slippery, wet areas, you can see why installing grab rails can help you avoid problems.
The Bottom Line
Once you get OA, you’ve got it. The only thing you can do is to be careful about what you do and supply yourself with every available health technique and aid that will help you to reduce or eliminate pain.
Most people who follow this advice are able to deal with their Osteoarthritis, but it is up to you to decide what you need to do, what you need to have and when you should take action.
I’ve managed for 23 years and while I can no longer run, dance, wear high heels, sit down on the floor, take a bath or bend over easily, I can still drive a car, ride in an RV, travel, enjoy visiting with friends and do many other things that make life pleasurable.
OA is not the end, it’s just an alteration. Keep this attitude, and you’ll be fine.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2019 Sondra Rochelle